Cole: A True Use of Force Needed to Defeat ISIS

Cole: A True Use of Force Needed to Defeat ISIS

Congressman Tom Cole

For the past sixteen years, the United States military has been engaged in several conflicts, primarily, but not exclusively, in the Middle East.

It’s not an exaggeration to say the United States has been in a state of war since the attacks of September 11. And yet, we have been trying to combat growing threats of new kinds of terrorism worldwide without a formal authorization of military force since 2003. With the rise of groups like ISIS, we should continue that precedent so that we can combat our enemies with full force.

Under the Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war – something that has only been done eleven times in our nation’s history. The Constitution is equally clear that after war has been declared, the President as Commander in Chief of all of the armed forces can direct the conduct of the war without the advice or approval of Congress.

Another option that allows the president to conduct military operations is the enactment of an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF). This gives the Commander in Chief the authority to use military force but it can also place geographic and tactical limitations on what the president can do, require reports to Congress, or place a time limit on that authority.

President George H.W. Bush sought such authorization in 1991 after Iraq invaded Kuwait, launching Operation Desert Storm. President George W. Bush asked for, and received, authorization to undertake military operations against “those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001.”

In 2002, he sought authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) specifically aimed at Iraq.

That was the last time any president has asked for authorization – and yet, we’ve been in a state of war ever since.

For over fifteen years, America has been at war, yet the only authorization to do so reaches back nearly sixteen years.

This is a serious abdication of Congress’ role in setting foreign policy and determining the limits, or lack thereof, of the power of the president when it comes to placing our military forces in harm’s way.

This is, in my opinion, a grave mistake.

I supported the actions against our enemies that were taken by both President Bush and President Obama. And I am confident that President Trump will pursue policies and strategies that will similarly be in the best interests of the nation. But Congress has an important role to play in determining the scope, length and strategy of that operation.

The authorization of military force is the proper and legitimate vehicle to do so.

This is why I’ve introduced legislation which would formally authorize the use military of force against ISIS.

Technically, it allows Congress to authorize the President to use any and all necessary and appropriate forces to defend our national security, as well as report to Congress every 60 days on the current situation of these actions.

In my opinion, our new president was elected largely on domestic issues, and not on foreign policy. Congress owes it to him to give our best counsel and our best advice, as to how he should pursue America’s priorities.

The best way to do so is for his administration to seek an AUMF, and for Congress to give him one.

James Bell

James Bell

James Bell serves as publisher and editor of Moore Dispatch.


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